Friday, March 14, 2014

All STEM and No Flower

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," home of a proud Pagan who grew up in the era of Mad Men! Yes, my darlings, I am just a tad too young to have been at the Summer of Love, but I only missed it by an eyebrow.

I think of my childhood often. It was a time when little girls wore dresses to school and played with dolls. It was a time when bedrooms were filled with pink, fluffy pillows, and playing dress-up. Girls competed to be cheerleaders, baton twirlers, and beauty queens. The expectation was that we would all grow up to be good mothers and wives, careful of our appearances and deft with pinking shears.

And then the feminist movement came along. Suddenly all those pink teddy bears were considered the harbinger of domestic slavery. In order to be fulfilled, a woman had to have a job. Beauty queens were denounced as vapid, and sewing classes were ripped from the curriculum.

You know what? I'm sitting here today, having grown up alternately hugging my pink teddy bear and playing Vietnam War with a toy machine gun, wishing for all the world that I knew how to sew.

I'm rambling. Maybe you need to scroll down and watch the commercial for GoldieBlox and then return to the sermon while I gather my thoughts.

I saw this commercial Thursday at a seminar I attended for school teachers. The topic of the seminar was STEM. If you've been snoozing through the more boring parts of the national news, you might have missed the fact that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This is a serious acronym.Be forewarned: ALL the jobs of the future, EACH and EVERY ONE, will be STEM jobs.

If you're a little girl who likes to dress up like a faerie, or a princess, or (Gods forbid) you like to play with baby dolls, you are SOL (acronym for Shit Outta Luck). You are going to be left in the dust by all those brainy STEM girls who played with GoldieBlox!

When did undermining the patriarchy become mashing the matriarchy?

We worship Venus, the Goddess of love and beauty; Athena, the Goddess of wisdom; Brighid, the Goddess of creativity; and Danu, the nurturing Mother of all. Oh, let me not forget Freya, who can hold Her own in battle with the best of 'em.

The Goddesses have many faces and many talents. Within Their ample spheres of influence, there's plenty of room for little frilly dresses (Versace makes them for big people and earns a swell salary), teddy bears (love the stuffed one, love the polar one), and baby dolls.

To me, a commercial that glorifies blowing up a baby doll is horrific. The implication is crystal clear. If you want to make it in a man's world, little girl, there's no room for motherhood. Why practice nurture on a doll?

It's time for a push-back on this, friends.

STEM is fine, it is indeed where the jobs will be. But it is being touted as the only reason for developing problem solving and critical thinking. Which is about the biggest heap of rubbish as I've ever seen. The only technology Emily Dickinson used was a pen and some paper. And yet even the finest psychological scientists use her work to explain and examine the human condition. Not sure on this, but I'll bet Emily had a baby doll in her childhood.

I'm deeply concerned about several things that I see as dangerous to the GoldieBlox generation:

1. the notion that there's no reward or creativity in the nurturing of children
2. the notion that there's no creativity in princess/beauty queen/dress-up play
3. the notion that girls are compartmentalized into "pinks" (dolls, boas, teddies) and "just like boys" (blocks, STEM, career success)
4. the appalling worry that market share for Legos will plummet because now girls have their own damn blocks, just for girls

When it comes to gender, it's not "them against us." The lines are completely blurred. And when it comes to fine minds, the lines are just as blurred. STEM creates the pen, but it doesn't write the poem. STEM makes the machine, but Versace designs the dress. When the world is all STEM and no flower, who will want to tend the garden?

One thing is for damn sure. When you disrespect the noble calling of motherhood, you inherit the wind.GoldieBlox sux. End of sermon.


Davoh said...

Ah, meself also 'came of age' during the 1960's and '70's.

gah, can i give you strong hugs without it being considered "sexual harassment"?

Anne Johnson said...

Sure, Davoh! I figure you for a swell gent.

Anonymous said...

I'm about 10 years younger and I can relate.

"All STEM and no flower" is brilliant. And captures how I too feel about this movement away from arts and toward tech, tech, tech and only tech.

We've forgotten that tech provides a platform for getting about daily life and is not the purpose of life.

Anonymous said...

This isn't an either/or situation. It's much more complex than that. You can be both frilly and brainy. You can be STEM talented without being a tomboy.
If they want complex thinking, they better quit simplifying this.